Monday, November 4, 2013
The lament of Cabrera and Fielder
By Mark Simon
When the Detroit Tigers look back on the opportunities they bungled in the 2013 ALCS, their biggest regrets on the offensive side are going to be the strikeouts by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder with one out and runners on first and on third, trailing by a run in the eighth inning of Game 3.
Tigers fans, you are not alone in your laments. There is company in your misery when it comes to missed opportunities of that nature.
We pondered and came up with a few sets of fans who can sympathize.
1986 Angels fans: The lament of DeCinces and Grich
As bad a memory as the Dave Henderson home run is for Angels fans, it could have all been an afterthought had the Angels finished off the series in the bottom of the ninth.
After Henderson's home run gave the Red Sox the lead, the Angels tied the game in that frame and loaded the bases with one out, needing only a well-hit fly ball to end the series in five games.
But an overeager Doug DeCinces swung at Steve Crawford's first pitch and hit a fly ball to shallow right, not far enough out to challenge the best arm in the American League in Dwight Evans.
Grich would then hit a soft liner back to the pitcher and the game would go extra innings, with the Red Sox winning on a Henderson sacrifice fly. They would romp in the next two games to win the series in seven.
1988 Mets fans: The lament of Strawberry and McReynolds
Game 4 of the 1988 NLCS is best remembered for the game-tying homer hit by Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia against Dwight Gooden in the ninth inning.
But the game did not end there. The Dodgers scored in the 12th on Kirk Gibson's homer, but the Mets had a great threat in the bottom of the frame, loading the bases with one out for their two best run producers.
Tommy Lasorda brought Jesse Orosco in from the bullpen and he coaxed a popout by Darryl Strawberry and then Orel Hershiser made a cameo appearance (after starting the previous game) to get Kevin McReynolds on a blooper to center on which John Shelby made the game-ending catch, evening the series, 2-2.
The Dodgers would go on to win the series in seven games.
1991 Braves fans: The lament of Smith, Gant and Bream
The instant classic that was Game 7 of the 1991 World Series presented both teams with opportunities to break a scoreless tie.
The Braves could have and should have, but didn't score in an eighth inning with multiple regrets. The first was when Lonnie Smith, who was on first base, got deked out by the Twins infield and was forced to hold at third on Terry Pendleton's double into the left-center gap.
Second and third and nobody out still presented the most golden of opportunities, but Jack Morris got the outs for which he became a legend (and a debatable Hall of Fame candidate), getting Ron Gant to ground to first, and after an intentional walk, Sid Bream to hit into a 3-2-3 inning-ending double play.
The Twins would win in 10 innings on Gene Larkin's single, winning a memorable series in seven games.
1996 Braves fans: The lament of Lopez and Polonia
Game 3 of the 2013 ALCS was very similar to Game 5 of the 1996 World Series between the Yankees and Braves, with Justin Verlander playing the role of tough-luck loser John Smoltz.
Similar to how the Tigers threatened in the eighth inning, the Braves had their chance down 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth after Chipper Jones doubled and Fred McGriff advanced him with a groundout.
Catcher Javy Lopez could not get the tying run home though, grounding to third against John Wetteland.
After an intentional walk to Ryan Klesko, pinch-hitter Luis Polonia hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap that looked like it would be a game-winning double.
But Paul O'Neill raced back, made a running catch and punched the outfield fence in delight as the Yankees headed home with a win, and a 3-2 series lead.
1999 Astros fans: The lament of Everett, Eusebio and Gutierrez
This one's not so much on the hitters, though Carl Everett, Tony Eusebio and Ricky Gutierrez did strand the bases loaded after no one was out in the 10th inning of a tie game of Game 3 of a 1-1 NLDS between the Astros and Braves.
This one is more remembered for Walt Weiss' amazing defensive play on Eusebio's grounder (which sandwiched Everett's forceout and Gutierrez's strikeout).
Weiss' diving stop and throw home for the out thwarted the Astros' hopes of a walk-off win and extended the game. The Braves would win in the 12th and send the Astros home after another year of postseason frustration.
2003 Yankees fans: The lament of Boone and Flaherty
Aaron Boone had the greatest moment of his career with his walk-off homer in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Red Sox.
But his second opportunity at baseball glory didn't go as well.
The Yankees led the Marlins 2 games to 1 in the 2003 World Series. In the 11th inning of Game 4, with the score tied 3-3 and the bases loaded with one out, Boone came up against Braden Looper, but couldn't get the run in that would have put the Yankees ahead, striking out after a long at-bat. John Flaherty popped up and the game continued.
The Marlins would win in the 12th on Alex Gonzalez's series-knotting homer and would not lose again, beating the Yankees in six games for their second championship.
2013 Athletics fans: The lament of Reddick, Vogt and Callaspo
The Tigers did what was done to them unto others, in this case the Athletics in Game 4 of this year's ALDS.
Max Scherzer's great escape in the eighth inning protecting a one-run lead with the bases loaded and nobody out by striking out Josh Reddick and Stephen Vogt, and getting Alberto Callaspo to fly to center, is one fond memory for Tigers fans to take into this offseason.
It could have been fonder though, had Cabrera or Fielder come through just that once.